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Thin Lizzy reborn as Black Star Riders and en route to Tyneside

Legendary rockers Thin Lizzy are trading under a new name - Black Star Riders - and are all set to rock Newcastle's O2 Academy

Rock band Black Star Riders
Rock band Black Star Riders

Such was the significance of a first Thin Lizzy studio album in 30 years that mystery surrounded the conception of a closely guarded secret.

The band’s new line-up had won rave reviews with frontman Ricky Warwick breathing new life into famous old material, despite initial misgivings from die-hard fans.

However, the clamour for fresh material was growing ever louder and within the band there was an appetite for developing the Lizzy legacy.

In 2012 long-serving guitarist Scott Gorham and Warwick had both let slip that a new album was taking shape. Nobody imagined it would be hatched in Newcastle.

“We moved into Blast Studios at Ouseburn for a few days in between shows,” explained Warwick. “I’d never recorded there before but for my last solo release I’d worked with the owner, Eric Cook.

“I’ve known Eric for a long time and he’s a big Lizzy fan. When we were talking about recording some demos he was happy to help. He said he’d do us a good deal… and he did! The guys at Blast couldn’t have been nicer to us.”

When Classic Rock Magazine got wind of Lizzy’s mini residency, a reporter and photographer were swiftly dispatched to Blast for the studio lowdown on a hotly anticipated release.

“Even then the new songs sounded incredible,” recalled John Burrows, the local photographer charged with capturing history in the making.

“The chemistry was there and it was clear this new album would be something special.”

For Gorham the brief stay on Tyneside presented a golden opportunity to reacquaint himself with a city synonymous with a slew of Lizzy’s most legendary late 70s shows.

“Newcastle is a great city to be in for any amount of time,” said the charismatic Californian, who joined Lizzy in 1974.

“You can walk out of the hotel and suddenly you’re in the middle of the city. There’s a ton of things to see. In the early years I never saw anything of anywhere!

“Now I go out and make a point of getting to know where I am. Newcastle is such a great place. As a rock band you must play Newcastle. No argument. In the last 10 years the city has really blossomed.”

Gorham, inspired by his surroundings, got to work on what would become one of the best hard rock albums of 2013.

“People in Newcastle are so knowledgeable about their music that it got the juices flowing,” he added.

“It’s still so much more rock ‘n’ roll than a lot of places. I’ve been fortunate enough to play some great shows at the various venues in the city over the years. I love the City Hall and we always used to play there with Lizzy. There’s a history when it comes to rock music in Newcastle and we were all acutely aware of that when we were working in the city.”

Their demos locked down, Lizzy moved on. Ultimately they were the final days of a band responsible for top 10 hits Whisky In The Jar, The Boys Are Back In Town, Waiting For An Alibi and Killer On The Loose.

Gorham is reluctant to go into detail when asked to explain the decision to rebrand Lizzy’s most recent line-up as Black Star Riders and release album All Hell Breaks Loose under the new monicker.

He added: “There came a point when we realised that we weren’t going to play the new songs under the Lizzy name. It just wasn’t possible. It’s a hypothetical question when you ask what the new album would have sounded like if it had been a Lizzy record. But I’m sure they would have sounded pretty similar!

“In the end it gave us a chance to do something a bit different - and cover ourselves legally. Ultimately we’ve written and created something brand new for a brand new band and in actual fact that feels really good.

“Everyone in this band is a songwriter – we’re a genuine team working together and we all want to move forward.

“Black Star Riders is the best vehicle to do that.”

:: Black Star Riders play Newcastle O2 Academy on December 7.

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